PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY

3 Ways to Manage Your Energy

"The world belongs to the energetic."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Many years ago my father-in-law was installing laminate flooring at our home. It was a two-day job. Towards the end of the first day, he came to the place where he needed to make a detailed cut around a doorway. Although he still had some work left in him, he said "I'm going to stop now and leave this intricate cut for first thing in the morning."

That is a simple example of properly managing energy. Effective time managers match the task with their energy level.

We all have our own biological prime-time. We have our individual cadence of rhythm and blues during the day. The key is to know your daily energy highs and lows and, if possible, plan your work accordingly.

Here is my 'personal energy cycle.' I am at my energetic best first thing in the morning. I maintain this level until about 10:30 am. My energy level slowly diminishes and hits a low right after lunch. I get a second wind from 1-4 pm but my energy level is still not as high as in the morning. After 4pm my energy level gradually diminishes until the end of the day.

Think about your daily energy levels. Are you best in the morning or are you a night owl? Regardless of your individual energy rhythm, here are 3 ways to work with your personal energy cycle.
 

1. Work on Your High-Value Priorities at Your Peak Energy Times.

Perform your highly creative and/or analytical work at your peak energy times. For me, this means writing blog posts, developing podcast content and designing training and speaking engagement material. All of these tasks take focus and concentration.

What are your high-value tasks that demand your mental best? Do you schedule them at your high-energy times?

 

2. Perform Routine Tasks During Your Low Energy Times. 

Your routine tasks are usually administrative work. Administrative work takes less brainpower. Routine tasks for me include printing out training materials, gathering information for upcoming events and sending emails. I also try and schedule appointments and phone calls for the afternoon.

What are your more routine tasks? Are you performing them according to your energy level?

Of course, there will be many days when you have no choice. I often deliver full-day training programs. On those days, it doesn't matter what my various energy levels are, I've got to be energetic all day. 
 

3. Take Frequent Breaks.

Research indicates that the mind can work in a highly focused state for limited amounts of time. During your times of highly creative or analytical work, take mental breaks. For example, work for intense 50 minute stretches then take a 10-minute break. Do something that doesn't require brain power. I usually try to get up and do something that requires physical activity. 

Being a high-performer requires not only managing your time but managing your energy. To the extent that you have control over your day, work with, not against, your personal energy cycle.

Because of my personal biological prime-time, I try to be a 'maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon'. Do what works best for you.

THE 3 LEVELS OF HAPPINESS

We are meant to thrive, to enjoy life to the fullest. That is why I was intrigued when I came across psychologist Martin Seligman's 3 Levels of Happiness. I think they are insightful. I'd like to share them with you while adding my own interpretation.
 

Level 1: The Pleasant Life

The Pleasant Life consists of doing and having things that bring pleasure. This includes shopping, going to concerts, eating good food and having nice things. None of these are bad, they are just temporary and not deeply fulfilling.
 

Level 2: The Engaged Life

The Engaged Life includes pursuing important personal goals and building strong relationships. Examples of personal goals may be running a marathon or becoming proficient with a musical instrument. Living a disciplined, focused life leads to personal fulfillment.

So does investing in relationships. Taking time to enjoy family and friends. The Engaged Life provides longer lasting and deeper happiness than the Pleasant Life.


Level 3: The Meaningful Life


The Meaningful Life consists of using your God-given talents and strengths in service to others. Take time to discover what you are good at. Seek out your natural talents and use them to make someone else's life better. All of us want to be part of something larger than ourselves, to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The Meaningful Life moves you from happiness to joy.
 
I don't think Seligman meant for us to limit ourselves to one level of happiness. I'm not an 'either/or' person. Rather I'm a 'both/and' or in this case, an all-three, type of person.

So pursue all three levels. Use the special talents that the Lord gave you to serve others. And pursue personal goals and healthy relationships. And round out your life with healthy experiences and things you enjoy.

In fact, I believe if we seek the Meaningful Life, the Engaged Life will flow naturally from it. And the Pleasant Life will be the frosting on the cake.

In this case, who says you can't have it all?

Nourish the Mind: 9 Books to Help You Thrive

"A person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read."

- Mark Twain

In a world filled with 'weapons of mass distraction' like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, don't neglect digging into a good book.

Here are a few that I have found to be especially helpful.

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

• The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

• Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

• How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

• The Art of Explanation by Lee Lefever

• Communicate to Influence by Ben and Kelly Decker

• Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

LEADERSHIP

The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencion

• Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey

• The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

We live in a knowledge-based society. In many cases, we are paid for what we know. If you are not increasing your knowledge and improving your skills, there is someone else who is.

Remember, when you're through learning, you're through.

3 Types of Time Managers: Drifter, Driver and Designer

"How we live our days is how we live our lives."
- Annie Dillard

There is a tension for each one of us between accomplishing our plans for the day and dealing with the unexpected.

In my experience, I have observed three types of time managers.
 
THE DRIFTER
The Drifter heads into the day with no specific game plan or daily goals. They figuratively shrug their shoulders and say it is futile to plan the day because something will inevitably come up and sabotage their plans.

They are like a piece of driftwood on the waves, going whichever way the day takes them. (This is also known as 'flying by the seat of your pants.')

The drawback with this approach is the lack of looking at the long term. Everything is immediate. With no daily list of priorities or goals, there is a lack of focus and direction. There may be activity but not much accomplishment.
 
THE DRIVER
The Driver is the opposite of the Drifter. The Driver heads into the day with a very specific game plan and checklist. They put their head down and do whatever it takes to complete the list.

The Driver may get a lot accomplished but they leave little room for opportunities and issues that come up during the day. There is little time for spontaneous relationship building. Everything not planned is seen as an annoying interruption. Because of their lack of flexibility, the Driver is often frustrated and stressed.


THE DESIGNER
The Designer is the most effective time manager. The Designer balances structure and flexibility. The Designer enters the day with a solid game plan but leaves themselves margin. They are clear on what they want to accomplish during the day, but allow room for relationship building and addressing important, 'on the spot' issues.

The reality of life is that you need to focus on some important priorities and be able to adapt to unexpected events. The Designer has the flexibility to focus on the right task, at the right time with the right amount of energy.

Decide to be a Designer!
 

To help you design your day, I have developed a 'Win the Day' Action Plan. I use this daily planning sheet every day. You can download it here. I hope you find it helpful.

This 'Win the Day' Action Plan resource is just one resource that is shared as part of my In Control! Personal Productivity MasterClass Public Workshop. To register or learn more, click here.

 

3 Simple Ways to Work with a Difficult Person

"Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not."
- Samuel Johnson

It's a fact of life that we will like some people more than others. We are going to be emotionally drawn to some people while others will rub us the wrong way.  Many people act inappropriately or have a challenging personality. (Keep in mind that we may be a difficult person in someone else's eyes.) Many years ago the Apostle Paul wrote, "live at peace with others, as far as it depends on you."  The key here is to focus on maintaining your composure, despite how the other person acts. Here are 3 simple strategies when dealing with a difficult co-worker, customer, family member or friend.

1. Separate Your Feelings from Your Actions
You cannot control your feelings but you can control your behavior. Don't let the other person lead you into counter-productive behavior such as blaming, yelling or other personal attacks. Be kind, not necessarily because they deserve it, but because you are a kind person. 

2. Exercise Grace
Keep in mind that you have a very limited view of the other person. You likely have no idea about the other person's past or what they may be currently going through.

I am not suggesting that you be passive or tolerate inappropriate behavior, but give others the benefit of the doubt. You can be kind and candid at the same time.

3. Don't Criticize, Complain or Gossip About Them To Others
 Make it your goal to maintain your integrity and poise. When you criticize, complain or gossip to others, you demonize the other person, cause division and most importantly, give away your influence. Remember, you are the only person you can control. Don't try to control the other person, it's futile.

"I decided to resign myself from the position of general manager of the universe."
- Jeffrey Gitomer

Doing the right thing and how someone else responds are two different things. Do your part well. Live at peace with others, as far as it depends on you.